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Game-Changing Wine Trend Makes Its Way to Buffalo

12235259_10104447358270179_191330012_oThe Coravin System—a device that allows users to pour from a bottle of wine without removing the cork—has been a factor in the wine industry for some time. But it is only in the past year or so that it has been used by restaurant sommeliers in any significant numbers, and even then, it has primarily been limited to progressive, big-city markets like New York and San Francisco. Recently, though, the trend made its way to Buffalo, and Western New Yorkers will have the opportunity to drink superiorly because of it.

“Our motto is drink better wine, and that’s what we’re striving to get people to do. This is a great tool to get people to do that,” declared Eric Genau, owner of City Wine Merchant, where the Coravin is being putting to daily use.

12214135_10104447358170379_297714688_oThe Coravin works by extracting wine from the bottle through a fine needle inserted through the cork. At the same time that the wine is being poured, the Coravin pumps inert Aragon gas into the bottle to prevent whatever doesn’t make it into the glass from coming in contact with air. No air contact means no oxidation and thus no change to the wine left in the bottle for at least 18 months, according to Coravin. The only catch is that the bottle must use real cork, which naturally reseals itself, allowing the small hole formed by the needle to close practically as soon as the needle is removed.

12242883_10104447358240239_640371001_oThis ability to preserve wine in the bottle eliminates waste so that a wine retailer like City Wine Merchant can keep bottles on the tasting table longer and can offer customers samples of higher-end wines. This has changed the game at City Wine Merchant, where tastings used to only be offered on Thursdays during hours of peak traffic to maximize the mileage they could get out of a single bottle. Now the store offers samples all day, every day—365 days a year.

“People have been very responsive. It’s nice that they can come in and taste according to their own schedules,” Genau reported.

12227483_10104447358335049_84074897_oCoravin has also improved Genau’s ability to pair wines with specific foods when private clients consult with him in advance of hosted dinners. He also applies the technology to City Wine Merchant hosted dinners offered periodically at restaurants around Buffalo. Before, he had to pair wines he may never had tasted with dishes chefs described to him on paper. Now, he can sit down in advance of a dinner and taste multiple wines with the food, ensuring that the final pairings best compliment the subtleties and complexities of the dishes being served.

The other side of the coin is the system’s use in restaurants. Genau reports that Ristorante Lombardo is using the Coravin in its wine program to great effect. A certain section of the wine menu is now dedicated to high-end wines offered by the glass at lower prices than would otherwise be possible.

For regular wine drinkers, the Coravin is also useful in the home, where it can sometimes be difficult to polish off an entire bottle before it would otherwise go bad. It also permits home users to drink different wines with different meals or courses in a single day without guilt of waste. And it can mean not putting off opening that high-end bottle for a special occasion. With Coravin, every day can be a special wine occasion.

“It makes a great holiday gift,” Genau assured.

City Wine Merchant sells the system at the Coravin-controlled price of $299 for the older model and $349.95 for the newer, sleeker model that boasts a larger gas charger and faster-filling needle. City Wine Merchant is located 715 Main Street at Tupper and can be reached at (716) 931-9114.


Written by Caitlin Hartney

Caitlin Hartney

Caitlin has covered local food and drink for Buffalo Rising since 2015, having previously written for Artvoice, the Public, and the Buffalo News. She works full time in marketing communications and is earning her master's degree in history at University at Buffalo, the latter of which occasionally informs her writing. Most importantly, she likes the word "moist" and doesn't care who knows it. How else do you describe a great piece of cake?

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